Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has addressed his state for the first time in over a month as five million residents were forced into a further seven days of lockdown.
Mr Andrews is recovering at home after breaking vertebra and fracturing ribs in a fall at a Mornington Peninsula holiday home in March that left him in intensive care.
A return to work date for Mr Andrews remains unclear. Acting Premier James Merlino has stood in and now faces lengthy daily Covid-19 press conferences which became synonymous with the premier last year during the state's devastating second wave.
With Melbourne experiencing a surge in locally acquired Covid-19 cases which has seen known community cases rise to 60, Mr Andrews took to social media on Wednesday night to call on the state to "keep fighting".
"I won't talk about how hard this is, or why it matters so much. You all know that. But I did want to send a message to Victorians facing another week off work, away from school, or with the kids at home," he wrote in what was a chain of tweets.
"Just because we've had to do this before, doesn't mean it's easy to do again. Some of us will be tired. Some stressed. Some sick to the back teeth of this pandemic. Maybe a mix of all three."
On Wednesday, Mr Merlino announced the state's seven-day lockdown would continue for another seven days for Melbourne residents once the initial restrictions expired at midnight Thursday. Regional Victoria will end their lockdown if it records zero cases on Thursday.
Premier hails record-breaking Victorians
Mr Andrews hailed the efforts of Victorians who have responded strongly to a call for action, with new records set for daily tests and vaccines. On Wednesday the state announced more than 50,000 tests and 20,000 vaccines for Tuesday.
"Please know that every individual effort you made today, and everything you'll do tomorrow and every day after will save lives," he said.
"We're doing this to protect our communities, our state and the entire country.
"Be proud of what you've achieved and be proud of our state too. Keep fighting, Victoria."
He also provided an update on his condition saying he was due to meet his medical team next week, while suggesting he could return to work at some point in July. He last took to Twitter on April 18.
Mr Andrews said he was sorry he could not be there for Victorians but was proud of Mr Merlino's leadership.
Mr Merlino justified extended restrictions by warning if the highly-infectious Indian variant, B1617, was allowed to "run its course" it would "explode".
Professor Sutton said about 10 per cent of current cases caught the virus through "fleeting exchanges" with infected people.
He has "great confidence" restrictions will be eased at the end of the week but travel will still not be allowed from Melbourne to regional areas over the Queen's Birthday long weekend.
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